The Good Citizen

A month or so ago, my neighbor Biebs and I decided to walk down the road to our local farmer’s market for lunch and a little shopping. I was on a quest for local honey, and Biebs wanted more peaches and nectarines. It was a warm September day as we skirted across the small streets of our town to arrive at the market.

Just as we reached the entrance, I was chatting away about something (that I’m sure was inconsequential) when Biebs noticed an elderly woman trying to get out of the passenger side door of a car. She asked, “do you think that woman needs help?” But before I could answer, she was already over there, greeting the woman, asking her if she needed assistance, then actually helping her out of the car. The woman thanked her, and we were all on our way.

Biebs is a good friend, a great person (even if she is an evil Duck fan), and in this case, observant and aware of her surroundings. And that, my friends, is the key to being a Good Citizen. Taking notice.

Obviously, I was not the hero in this scenario. I was too self-involved with the telling of my story, that I simply didn’t notice the people or things around me. How many times do we do that? If we’re alone, we’d rather be looking at our phones versus our surroundings or greet those around us. If we’re with someone, we are only focused on that person (which is actually kind of a nice thing, most times). But we are in our own worlds. In our own thoughts, whatever they may be. If only we were more aware…

Now, there is a population who IS aware. They keep their eye out and aren’t distracted. The only problem is that there is a subset; people who see and can anticipate a need- i.e. a senior needing assistance, a woman with her arms full, needing someone to open the door for her- then they don’t do anything about it. Not an ideal citizen there. What keeps us from helping? Is it the rejection of someone saying “no thank you” and feeling like you just exerted a bit extra effort for nothing? Are we shy? Are we too embarrassed? Are we trying to let them be independent? Are we afraid of strangers or just want to ‘stay out of it’?

Here’s what I’ve gathered in my own observations to being a Good Citizen:

1) Be aware of everyone and everything around you. You can anticipate the needs of others by paying attention.

2) Overcome your shyness and reach out to the person. Most of the time they won’t bite 🙂

3) Follow through on your good deed. Don’t ask for the sake of asking, ask them if they need help and help them.

4) Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Nothing will happen if you don’t step up and wait for someone else to do it- they may be waiting for the same thing.

How aware are you of those in your environment? Are you able to see, anticipate and help others in need? Next time you’re out an about, try paying attention and perhaps you’ll see your world in a completely different light, and maybe even help someone along the way.

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